International markets capped off the week with more losses on Friday night amid mounting concerns of a potential conflict in Syria. US stocks swung between gains and losses as President Obama opted to seek Congressional approval for a strike against Syria.
His decision to ask Congress is likely to delay any imminent action against Syria, and the resultant uncertainty weighed on sentiment. The Dow shed 31 points (-0.2%) to settle at 14810, the S&P500 lost 0.3% and the Nasdaq declined 0.8%.
Aside from Syria, there were positive economic developments over the weekend, with China’s official manufacturing index expanding at a faster than expected pace in August.
With conflict in Syria temporarily averted, oil and gold suffered sharp falls. Oil was down 1.1% at US$107.65 a barrel whilst bullion futures fell 1.2% to US$1396 an ounce. Still August was a strong month for gold, which surged over six percent amid renewed global uncertainty.
The greenback was broadly stronger against other currencies, helped by positive economic data showing an expansion in US consumer confidence and mid-west business activity last month.
In economic news, the Melbourne Institute Inflation Gauge is due for release at 10:30am, AEST, Building Approvals data is due out at 11:30am, AEST and Company Operating Profits are scheduled for 11:45, AEST.